France’s Savoie region, nestled in the French Alps, may not be as well-known as Bordeaux or Burgundy when it comes to wine production, but it is home to two unique and lesser-known grape varieties: Jacquère and Altesse. These grapes produce white wines that are characteristic of the region and offer a refreshing alternative to more commonly recognized French varietals.
Jacquère: A Delicate and Floral White Wine
Jacquère is the most widely planted grape variety in Savoie, known for producing light-bodied and crisp white wines. The grape thrives in the region’s cool climate and limestone-rich soils, resulting in wines with vibrant acidity and mineral character. Jacquère wines typically exhibit delicate floral aromas, with notes of citrus, green apple, and white flowers. These wines are often enjoyed as an aperitif or paired with light seafood dishes.
The Perfect Pairing: Raclette Cheese
One of the classic pairings for Jacquère wine is Raclette cheese, a semi-hard cheese made from cow’s milk. The wine’s crisp acidity cuts through the richness of the cheese, while its citrus and apple notes complement the creamy flavors. Together, they create a harmonious and enjoyable culinary experience.
Exploring the Terroir of Savoie
The Savoie region’s unique terroir contributes to the distinctive characteristics of Jacquère wines. The vineyards are situated in the foothills of the Alps, with cool mountain air and ample sunshine. The combination of altitude, sunlight, and the region’s particular soils creates a microclimate that is ideal for producing elegant and expressive wines.
Altesse: A Royal Wine with Richness and Depth
Altesse, also known as Roussette, is another native grape variety of Savoie that produces exceptional white wines. It is often referred to as the “princess” of grapes due to its regal qualities. Altesse wines are known for their richness, depth, and complexity. They have a fuller body and a more pronounced fruit profile compared to Jacquère wines.
The Aromas of Altesse
Altesse wines display enticing aromas of ripe stone fruits such as apricot and peach, along with floral notes of honeysuckle and acacia. The wines often have a subtle hint of spice and a lingering, honeyed finish. Altesse wines are best enjoyed with dishes that have richer flavors, such as roasted chicken or creamy pasta dishes.
A Royal History
The history of Altesse can be traced back to the 14th century, when it was favored by the nobility of the Savoie region. In fact, it is believed that Queen Margaret of Austria fell in love with the wine and even had vines planted near her castle. Today, Altesse wines continue to be a testament to the region’s royal winemaking heritage.
Discovering the Hidden Gems of Savoie’s Wine Scene
While Jacquère and Altesse may not be as widely recognized as other French grape varieties, they offer wine lovers a chance to explore the unique terroir and winemaking traditions of the Savoie region. These wines are a true reflection of the alpine landscape, with their delicate flavors, refreshing acidity, and distinctive aromas. So, the next time you’re looking to discover something new and exciting in the world of wine, turn your attention to the hidden gems of France’s Savoie region.